FRANCE’S LOT VALLEY WALK
This picturesque area in the South of France is about an hour from the City of Toulouse and is dominated by the valley of the River Lot. This is a journey of exploration into a time warp starting near the Bastille village of Montcuq and ending after about 50 miles at the medieval town of Cahors. The area is steeped in history from the massacre of the Cathars, English domination under Henry II who married Eleanor of Aquitane, the 100 years war and the religious wars of the 15th century.
You will stay in a combination of lovely inns, farmhouses, hotels and a chateau. The accommodations are of a very high standard. All rooms have private bathrooms.
This is a place where the sun shines bright and the days are long. It is a fertile area which produces lavender, sunflowers, sorghum, tobacco, fruit and of course, wine. During this seven night/five day walk (one day off), you will explore the history of this ancient area which was conquered by the Romans over 2000 years ago.
You will visit the ancient Roman town of Moissac where you will stop at a typical French cafe a coffee break. You will walk along a path used by pilgrims centuries ago. Daily walks are between 3.5 and 15 miles. There are vehicle options for those wishing to give their feet a rest. 17 Your last full day, you will visit a market and the most important vineyard in the area. That night, you will stay in a 15th century chateau which has been converted into a luxurious hotel with a commanding view of the river. This is a fitting end to such a full week of air, education, companionship and exercise.
This Walk is a chance to see a part of France that is missed by most tourists. It is also a chance to sample the best of French cooking with fresh fruits and vegetables and local wines. This is a trip that taste buds will not soon forget. But most of all, it is a chance to meet the people France who are warm, friendly and superbly entertaining.
You will meet the group in Toulouse Airport. After a drive of about one hour you arrive at the Roman town of Moissac where you will make a stop for coffee and see the Romanesque tympanum before driving on La Petite Auberge, a remote and superbly restored stone farmhouse situated on its own farm, St. Gery, by the village of Lascabanes. Here you will spend the first two nights.
An easy walk in the morning to a picnic lunch on a farm which produces both asparagus and wine. A short stroll back to the Petite Auberge through the cause, rocky hills with views across farm land checkered with lavender, sunflowers, sorghum, tobacco and fruit trees. You will come across pigeonniers roofed in old tiles where for centuries pigeons were kept for food and fertilizer. You have an evening to relax before dinner or take a further walk in the area offered for those who would like a little more exercise.
From the front door of Le Petite Auberge you set out accompanied by donkeys on your journey through wooded country, along the paths used centuries ago by the pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela (4 1/2 hours). On the way, visit a chapel where pilgrims have prayed and signed their names for centuries. The towering 12th century keep, stormed by Simon de Montfort, surprises you as you come over the escarpment and look down at the terra-cotta roofs of the village of Montcuq. You will spend the night at Domaine Lapeze, surrounded by its orchards and vineyards.
This day’s walk takes you through vineyards of the high causses into the heart of the wine country, Appellation Cahors, towards Mauroux. With a visit to a lavender farm and lunch in a Routier cafe en route, you will end the walk (4 1/2 hours) at Floressas. You will be transported a short distance to Le Vert at Mauroux, a small converted manor house, a place of true Frenchness. Its restaurant is well known in the area; you will spend two nights here.
Today there will be a short walk to a picnic in a vineyard. The wines served will be from the vineyard you are in and Cahors wines, but for those who are not used to the AOC Cahors there will be many other options—Bordeaux and the South West for example. After lunch at the vineyard there will be a short stroll to the mighty honey-colored castle of Bonaguil. Return to Le Vert by vehicle.
After a short drive across the Lot the walk starts from St. Vincent where the countryside changes from dry causses to the lush river valley where kingfishers flash by and herons lope their way over the water. Having crossed the river you climb, at first through vineyards and then into chestnut woods, accompanied by trusty donkeys or local ponies. A longer walk (5 1/2 hours), is broken by lunch in the village of Labastide du Vert made by a super French couple (taste her cheese souffles!) The night is spent in the Hostellerie de Goujounac, a very’ typical French small hotel unashamedly “country French” in a very pretty village.
The seventh day comprises of visits to a food market. historic sites and the city of Cahors. After lunch in a favorite restaurant. you have a short bur strenuous walk (2 hours, along cliff path- with splendid views over the river and vineyards to the Chateau de mercuesthe the old palace of the Prince Bishops of Cahors. Here you dine and spend your final night surrounded by the beautiful views of the lot valley